United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, United States District
1:00 a.m. on August 9, 2014, Gregory Anast was playing
basketball with a friend at the Life Time Fitness (LTF)
facility in Vernon Hills, Illinois. He saw an employee of LTF
who appeared to be sweeping or mopping the floor but did not
see exactly what the man was doing. While chasing a loose
ball, Anast slipped and fell near the edge of the basketball
court and broke his ankle. After he fell, he saw water
standing on the floor where he had slipped. The person who
likely was the LTF employee testified that he had been
cleaning around the edges of the floor with a damp mop and
defendants, LTF Club Operations Co. and Life Time Fitness,
Inc. have moved for summary judgment. In deciding the motion,
the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to
Anast and draws reasonable inferences in his favor.
operator of a business owes its customers a duty to exercise
reasonable care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe
condition for their use. See, e.g., Ward v. K
Mart Corp., 136 Ill.2d 132, 141, 554 N.E.2d 223, 227
(1990). When a business invitee like Anast is injured in a
fall, the business operator is liable if the condition that
caused the fall was placed there by the operator's agents
or if the operator or its agents had actual notice of the
condition or it was there long enough that it should have
been discovered with ordinary care. See, e.g., Tomczak v.
Planetsphere, Inc., 315 Ill.App.3d 1033, 1039, 735
N.E.2d 662, 667 (2000).
has offered evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to
find that his fall was caused by water standing on the floor
of the basketball court and that the water was placed there
by an agent of LTF or at least had been there long enough
that an employee of LTF reasonably should have discovered it.
Specifically, Anast testified that he slipped hard,
indicating to him that there was something unusual about the
condition of the floor, and after he fell, he saw a puddle of
water in the area where his foot slipped. In addition, there
was an LTF worker in the area who was working with a wet mop
who had been there for some time before the fall, and there
was no one else in the area, likely due to the late hour. LTF
is not entitled to summary judgment based on the
insufficiency of the evidence offered by Anast.
primary argument in support of summary judgment is that
Anast's claim is barred by an exculpatory clause in the
agreement that he signed when he because a member of LTF some
months earlier. The agreement contains sections entitled
"Assumption of Risk" and "Waiver of Liability,
" which include the following undertakings:
2. ASSUMPTION OF RISK. I understand
that there are dangers, hazards, and risks of injury
or damage, some of which are inherent in the use of Life
Time's premises, facilities, equipment, services,
activities, or products . . . .
. . .
B. Risks. I understand that the
dangers, hazards, and risks of injury or
damage in the Use of Life Time Premises and Services
("Risks") may include but are not limited to
(1) slips, trips, collisions, falls, and loss of
footing or balance, including "slip and falls" and
falls from rock climbing structures or fitness equipment; (2)
drowning; (3) equipment failure, malfunction, or misuse; (4)
property theft, loss or damage, including from lockers or
vehicles; and (5) other accidents or incidents that
may result in injury or damage to me, Minor Member(s), Other
Member(s) or Guests.
. . .
I understand that Risks and Injuries in the Use of Life Time
Premises and Services (collectively, "Risks of
Injury") may be caused, in whole or in part, by
the ORDINARY NEGLIGENCE OF LIFE TIME, me, Minor
Member(s), Other Member(s), Guest(s) and/or other persons.
FULLY [sic] UNDERSTAND, AND
VOLUNTARILY AND WILLINGLY ASSUME, THE RISKS OF
3. WAIVER OF LIABILITY. On behalf
of myself . . ., I hereby voluntarily and forever
release and discharge Life Time from,
covenant and agree not to sue Life Time for,
and waive, any claims, demands, actions,
causes of action, . . . or any other alleged liabilities or
obligations of any kind or nature, whether known or unknown
(collectively, "Claims") for any
Injuries to me . . . in the Use of Life Time
Premises and Services which arise out of, result
from, or are caused by any Ordinary NEGLIGENCE OF LIFE
TIME, me, any Minor Member(s), any Other Member(s),
any Guest(s), and/or any other person . . . .
A. Negligence Claims. I understand that
Negligence Claims include but are not limited to Life
Time's (1) negligent design, construction (including
renovation or alteration), repair, maintenance, operation,
supervision, monitoring, or provision of Life Time Premises
and Services; (2) negligent failure to warn of or remove a
hazardous, unsafe, dangerous or defective condition; (3)
negligent failure to provide or keep premises in a reasonably
safe condition; (4) negligent provision of or failure to
provide emergency care; (5) negligent provision of services;
and (6) negligent hiring, selection, training, ...